10 Superb Fancy Schmancy Scotches

Americans and Europeans love “super premium” single malt scotch whiskies—sales were up 14% last year, even while sales for value and premium scotch fell. If you helped contribute to that number, you’ll appreciate this list of 10 terrific single malt and blended whiskies from a fellow scotch lover, with detailed descriptions of what you can expect from each bottle.

  • Brora 30 Year Old ($400)
  • Bruichladdich Italian Collection, Sassicaia 1993 ($75)
  • Chivas Regal 25 Year Old ($299)
  • Glenkinchie 12 Year Old ($50)
  • Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban ($70)
  • Glenrothes 1975 ($450)
  • Highland Park 15 Year Old, Cask #10146 ($80)
  • Highland Park 23 Year Old, Cask #443 ($200)
  • Johnnie Walker Blue Label, King George V ($600)
  • Talisker 30 Year Old ($350)

“Ten High-End Whiskies from the Highlands” [BusinessWeek]
“New Whiskies from Old Casks” [BusinessWeek]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jpx72x says:

    1% of super premium scotch drinkers actually appreciate super premium scotch. The other 99% are frat boys and d-bags who want to be perceived as someone who enjoys good scotch.

  2. timmus says:

    As a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Douchebags, I resent that remark!

  3. catcherintheeye says:

    “Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say I’m thirsty, not dirty.”

  4. crypticgeek says:

    Does anyone else disturbed by the fact that the girl holding the bottle of scotch in the photo is a little young?

  5. BeastMasterJ says:

    You’re never to young to start!

    I probably couldn’t tell $30 scotch from $300 dollar scotch, but at least I admit it. The only two varieties I’ve ever had was JB, and Dewar’s. They tasted similar, but I have a slight preference to JB.

  6. The fact that a blend -Chivas Regal made this list makes it totally bogus. No serious scotch drinker would ever include a blend on a “best” list.

  7. KillingMyBrainCells says:

    adding a splash of water, which can actually enhance the flavor by bringing out “notes” that it didn’t have before.

    Of course with the lighter single malt scotches it’s not needed as much as the cask strengh single malts

  8. Crazytree says:

    @jpx72x: thank you!

  9. roche says:

    Blue is not a single malt, it is blended. The Scotch snobs will mention this sooner or later.

    Scotch is my favorite drink, but I prefer some single malts over some blends and vice versa. Who gives a s*** what others think about how great your scotch tastes as long as it it makes you happy on your back porch while you are sipping it and smoking a good Maduro.

  10. CompletionBackwards says:

    @crypticgeek: This photo is an actual representation of the average visual resolution of a scotch drinker. So it’s a good question.

  11. lalahsghost says:

    I Love Scotch Scotchy Scotch Scotch Here it Goes Down, Down into my Belly.

  12. loueloui says:



    Also, I think scotch is more of an aquired taste, as in you really gotta have aquired several alcoholic beverages prior to trying it. No really, I usually drink Chivas 18, rocks if you please, and I love the stuff. Some of these other ones though are like a combination of charcoal briquettes, and mouthwash.

  13. SOhp101 says:

    @jpx72x: Isn’t that with everything, from cars to electronics?

  14. jbl-az says:

    My problem with this list is that all the single malts they seemed to list (forget about the Chivas and JW blended scotches!) were all highland malts.

    My favorite are the wonderfully smoky Islay malts. Laphroaig and Lagavulin are two well-known distillers.

  15. humorbot says:

    Yeah, what gives? A few of those are blends, not single malts. The Consumerist-ists have been drinking too many Jaeger shots again. And I’m with jbl-az. You will never drink a cigar as tasty as Laphroaig.

  16. BigNutty says:

    What’s with the girl? Maybe some pervert took this picture. What parent would allow their kid to pose for a picture such as this?

    I’m surprised you guys put a picture like this up.

  17. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Wait, is this the same website that was scoffing at the warning labels on Sesame Street DVDs just a day or two ago? Oh God help us, there’s a picture of an unrecognizable child holding a bottle that might have alcohol in it! Somebody call Chris Hansen!

  18. aishel says:

    This is such an odd list. The prices here are ranging from $50 to $600. If we’re including such a range, where are scotch’s such as Lagavulin, Balvenie, or Oban, to name just a few?

  19. hoo_foot says:


    Scottish whisky is NOT spelled with an E.

    If you’re going to write a guide about buying premium Scotch, then please spell it correctly.

  20. hoo_foot says:

    ^ Should clarify that my last comment is not directed at Consumerist. But I’ve run across several Scotch buying guides and Scotch “afficiondos” that make the above mistake.

  21. dirtleg says:

    If I am going to spend money on premium liqueur I will shop for a high grade tequila. I find that good tequila (Chinaco, etc.) is better for sipping than scotch. Me and scotch, we don’t get along so good.

  22. MeOhMy says:

    Blended Scotch is not automatically bad Scotch…no matter what self-proclaimed Scotch snobs try to tell you.

  23. hills says:

    FYI – from wikipedia: “The spelling whisky (plural whiskies) is generally used for whiskies distilled in Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Japan, while whiskey is used for the spirits distilled in Ireland. A 1968 directive of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling, but allows labelling as “whiskey” in deference to tradition; most U.S. producers still use the latter spelling, Early Times, Maker’s Mark, and George Dickel being among the few exceptions.”

  24. Finder says:

    Strange list indeed. Personally, I think Blue Label is completely overrated, although it is somewhat tasty. I was at a tasting a while back and was able to compare a a 30 year single malt Laphroaig back to back with it. Guess what blew it away and for much less money.

    As far as the snobs that think adding water to scotch is a sin, well, you’re somewhat misguided. A splash of water really opens a scotch up and should never be considered blasphemous. Now, drinking a 30 year single malt over ice…well, you should just be slapped in that case.

  25. darious says:

    One of the surest tests to tell if you are dealing with a poseur or a real scotch fan is to bring up blended Scotch whiskies. A blend in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing is a superlative thing.
    [shillmode] Compass Box’s Oak Cross blend has instantly become one of my favorites, to retain a permanent place on my liquor shelf. I can’t say that about most of the single malts I have[/shillmode].

    To JBL-AZ: To be fair the original article on BusinessWeek does specify that they are picking their favorite 10 Highlands. It’s Consumerist that left that little detail off.

  26. chortik says:

    you cannot talk about fine scotch and not mention the 25+ y/o macallan.

  27. GearheadGeek says:

    @hoo_foot: Are “afficiondos” people who claim to like whisky but spell it “whiskey”? ;)

  28. darious says:

    The problem with tequila is not so much in me getting along with it. Tequila and myself get along just fine thank you. The problem is that after a few shots of it it’s the the cops that I have a problem getting along with. :)

  29. GearheadGeek says:

    @darious: Re: preferring singles to blends making one a poseur: I’d have to say that depends on which blends are brought up in the conversation. I can’t say that I’ve had the 25-year-old Chivas, but I can say that I find the 12 to be too mild for my taste. Then again, I like Lagavulin so I probably qualify as an outlier in Scotch surveys. I’d have to guess that I wouldn’t find it worth $299/bottle while there are some very enjoyable whiskies available for $50-$80.

  30. anonymouscoworker says:

    @jbl-az: Talisker is technically an Islay whisky because it’s from the Isle of Skye. And let me tell you, that stuff is delicious. Like drinking a campfire.

  31. Skiffer says:

    This is my kind of post…

    But why isn’t there anything under $20!??!

  32. GearheadGeek says:

    @anonymouscoworker: While I enjoy Talisker, being from the Isle of Skye is quite different from being from Islay, Islay is 100 miles or more from the Isle of Skye, and Talisker doesn’t taste like an Islay whisky.

  33. scampy says:

    Regardless of whether these are single malts or blends, I cant see why ANYONE would pay $600 or even $100 for a 1 litre bottle of anything you are just going to drink and piss out a few hours later. It cant possibly be THAT good. I cant think of any food or drink I would pay that much for.

  34. GearheadGeek says:

    @scampy: Litre? Try 750ml.

  35. edrift101 says:

    Can’t say that I’ve tried any of the listed bottles… And here I thought I was a dedicated single-malt scotch drinker. :)

    My favorites:
    Macallan, 12 year
    Belvinie, 12 year (Double Wood)

  36. Anonymous says:

    Anything for the bargain shopper? Something in a $5 drunk for me and my friends?

  37. bbbici says:

    There is no shame in blended whiskys. They are made from single-malts, duh, and blended by masters to have a consistent “branded” flavor from year to year. Single malts are like wearing pure vanilla instead of a crafted perfume.

    JW and Famous Grouse are terrific blends.

    Anyone who doesn’t include a Macallan on their top picks list is an obvious dilletante, and their opinions can’t be trusted.

  38. quail says:

    Single malts can be fabulous but I’ve got to wonder dropping four to five Benjamins for something who’s enjoyment is transient. As to water in scotch or a whisky, it does change it’s taste dramatically. You only have to put a few drops in for the effect though. People who add more just don’t like whisky.

  39. darious says:

    A misstatement on my part – it’s not the personal preference that makes one a poseur. It’s the _automatic_ dismissal of blends as being “inferior”
    that makes one so. :)

  40. humorbot says:

    I don’t think anyone’s complaining about blends not being worth their time, strictly. It’s more of a fact checking issue. Y’ought not to refer to a list of single malts when that’s not, in fact, what the thing is.

  41. magus_melchior says:

    @BigNutty: From the desk of Obviousman: it’s a fake bottle. Either that, or the photograph was rotated a bit.

  42. To the single-malt/blended commenters: the top-10 list is supposed to include single-malt and blended whiskies. The article adds more details on who likes to drink what—Asians buy more blends than Americans and Europeans do, for example. I guess I left out too much information when I was summarizing it, but the list is definitely supposed to include both types.

    As far as spelling goes, my apologies. I thought that the -ey/-y difference was regional in reference to language, not product (in other words, something like “color” vs. “colour”). I misinterpreted the dictionary. But now I know!

    As far as the photo goes, lighten up! It’s a Getty stock image, and I’m sure it was originally created for fire-and-brimstone stories of children playing with dangerous things or the effects of alcoholism on the family or something. It’s just a funny picture when used out of context.

  43. cuiusquemodi says:

    @crypticgeek: Now, now, as Dr. Cox teaches us,

    Scotch. It’s too early to drink but people it is never to early to think about it.